MCC and community partners strategize to help underrepresented students

About 200 people from nearly 40 higher education institutions and community organizations gathered for the annual Kansas-Missouri Summit on Access, Persistence and Completion.

The daylong conference, sponsored by Metropolitan Community College, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the University of Kansas, is designed to bring together faculty and staff to explore and discuss critical issues affecting the success of underrepresented students.

One of the featured speakers at the Sept. 27 event at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center was Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe, chief executive officer of the Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB). SAAB has chapters on more than 200 secondary school and college campuses across the country.

Dr. Kimberly Beatty talks about persistence:- the number of students who return from either fall to spring or fall to the next fall.

“Everyone wants to feel a sense of mattering,” said Bledsoe, who has more than 30 years of post-secondary experience.¬† “Everybody matters, not marginalizing anyone. In my world, the student mattered and we didn’t talk about a specific ethnicity. Every student mattered and that connected to what we call student enrollment management, and all students are a part of the family.”

Bledsoe was formerly vice president for student life and special assistant to the president at the University of Toledo.

MCC Chancellor Kimberly Beatty welcomed attendees and discussed where MCC is in terms of underreppresented students.

“We know nationally that we still have underrepresented students of color that are coming to college in lower numbers and males that are coming to college in lower numbers,” Dr. Beatty said.

“Events like this can help us to think about strategies, look at best practices to determine how we can improve, get them in, keep them and help them to complete.”

In Spring 2017, 63 percent of African-American students returned to MCC from the previous fall semester. That increased to 65 percent in 2018. Hispanics returned at the greatest percentage year over year: 67 percent in 2017 and 69 percent in 2018. White students returned at a flat rate of 67 percent year to year.

To learn more about the Summit on Access, Persistence and Completion, visit The Summit is already accepting presentation proposals for the 2019 event. Proposals can be submitted to Robert Page at